This month, ICAI celebrates one of Calgary’s most talented rappers, an incredible artist and committed activist KTheChosen as our Artist of the Month for October.
KTheChosen is more than just representing Calgary. He is creating impactful art to elevate the arts scene in Calgary and make it a more equitable, diverse, and hospitable space.
We were fortunate enough that KTheChosen found time in his busy schedule to sit down and talk with us about art, society, equity, and his vision for the arts scene in Calgary.
Tell us a little about your artistic background and journey?
I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe and came to Calgary as an international student to study business at the University of Calgary. I’ve been passionate about music since high school where I used to freestyle with my friends, rapping over beats they played by banging on our lockers. Once in Canada, I adopted a new stage name, KTheChosen, and began performing at open mic events around Calgary. Since my arrival in 2015,I have self-released three albums, performed at several showcases and events and delivered a TEDx talk.
What is your favourite artistic medium?
Foremost, hip-hop and spoken word. But I think I am an artist beyond any specific medium. I am focused on what interests me, more than the medium, but the actual message. I like to focus on the community, the people, and the way we communicate or even market ourselves and our ideas.
Tell us how the journey has been so far and what opportunities you are looking for?
I have come quite far in the last three years of being a professional artist. I have performed at the Ethnik Festival, Woezo Africa Cultural Festival, ICAI Immigrant festival and my music video for “Black Balloons” was featured in a Toronto virtual exhibit (2020) and the University of Calgary Black History Galley (2021). As an independent artist, I find promotional resources and funding are my biggest barrier to further my career. I would love an opportunity to build my own marketing/publishing team to not only help spread the reach of my own music but that of other artists I work with.
Can you tell us what inspires you to create your works?
I’m inspired by people and their stories. I love to share experiences that are relatable because they tend to last longer in people’s minds and help people express how they’re feeling when it seems no one else understands. My family, friends, and those in my circle also inspire but they know how to keep me centred so I am always focused on growing as an artist and a human being and never just becoming distracted by all the noise.
What are the challenges you are currently facing as an immigrant/newcomer artist?
Calgary’s art scene is still developing so in the earlier years there were very few options when it came to performance opportunities and events to meet other creatives. I have since built a strong network of creatives to collaborate with but wish this information was more accessible to people when they first arrive and are looking to explore the creative community.
What would you like to share with the people of Calgary about your works?
I have a project I’m releasing on October 22nd called “+Vice”. It looks at mental wellbeing and how we can learn to check-in with each other. The album covers a lot of stories and topics that I feel people will relate to, so I’d definitely recommend they give it a listen once it’s out!
Has ICAI impacted your artistic growth?
Of course, I met ICAI Executive Director Toyin Oladele after my performance at the Ethnik Festival. We had a lot of enlightening discussions about how we can help immigrant artists which has influenced who and how I collaborate with other creatives as well as how I share resources for independent musicians. I’ve also attended a few ICAI events that helped me with grant writing and connected me to future collaborators.
The grant writing workshop motivated me to apply to a few and also connected me with advisors who worked at organizations like Calgary Arts Development. This has helped me collaborate with more people in the creative space as well as made me aware of all the options available to me.
What are the goals you are hoping to achieve in the next few months through your arts?
My upcoming project is the biggest body of work I have put together in terms of the number of collaborations, the time put into creative content like social media and music videos as well as the depth of the music itself. My aim is to have this project show immigrant artists that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to and also make Calgarians (and Canada as a whole) aware of the talent we have in this city.
My vision is to have Calgary become a blooming arts scene so that talented artists don’t feel like they have to leave the city to gain recognition or success. To do that, I want to see Calgary as a whole, not just the arts community, become more equitable; fight for gender equity, racial equity, indigenous voices to be heard and respected. I think if we can begin paving the way forward to that kind of cultural change it would be an enormous achievement.
How do you feel being selected as the artist of the month?
I’m honoured and excited!
We’d like thank KTheChosen so much for his time and for an incredibly engaging conversation on the arts. You can find KTheChosen at the following links: